South Africa have been doing well in the World Cup with only one defeat against pool leaders India. After the defeat, facing West Indies and Ireland, they have come out on top. The team they fielded in both matches proved to be the better side as they set record totals of 400+ runs and took all 10 wickets. However, the fitness of Vernon Philander and JP Duminy has thrown a cat amongst the pigeons. If they are fully fit, they will be considered for selection in the last two matches in the round robin, if they are not fully fit, why risk them at all?
In the last two matches, South Africa fielded the same team which has shown efficiency, but it has a few hiccups here and there. Morne Morkel has been overstepping and giving away wides and no balls. Dale Steyn on the other hand has just regained his ability to attack and get the ball to swing, especially upfront in his opening spell. It’s not a train smash, but the fielders have dropped a few sitters and given away runs with poor fielding.
As if that’s not enough to worry about, South Africa always have trouble picking their XI while questioning whether they should have an all-rounder at number 7 or not. While Philander was out of action, Farhaan Behardien was put in at number 7 and in the 3 matches he played, he didn’t make an impact. On the other hand, Wayne Parnell is another player who can fit into that position. The only concern is that he kicked off his World Cup on the wrong foot, taking only 1 wicket for 85 runs against India, which takes him out of the equation.
At the top of the order, young de Kock hasn’t been able to make his mark. In the four that he has played, he has only scored 27 runs. Perhaps dropping him will give him a chance to get his head in the game. If de Kock misses out, that would mean de Villiers would have to keep wicket and continue batting the way he does, that might be asking too much. Without de Kock, in form Rossouw can bat at the top of the order while Duminy returns to his spot. Another option would be to let de Kock bat lower down the order, Rossouw taking his place at the top but Duminy would miss out. Another twist would be to drop de Kock, Rossouw opens the batting, Duminy bats at 7 while Philander misses out because Abbott has done more than enough as a bowler.
Plus, having Duminy in the side brings in another spin bowler. Nevertheless, he needs to bring flight back in to his deliveries. His bowling has been a bit poor even though he has been taking a wicket here and there. From the three cricketers, one has to miss out, but who?
South Africa has played well with a heavier batting side rather than bowling. Some have said the big hitters have overshadowed the bowlers, but it’s everybody’s ball game. A strong batting order has won South Africa matches, so they should stick to that setup.
Oh, I love Imran. What a big heart. If only you had 11 of him. He has been through so much and still keeps fighting on. He's your go-to guy, your banker, so be grateful he is in fluent form.
Remember how Martin Crowe described Tahir, well the same can be said about Abbott. In two matches he bagged 6 wickets. He’s a good swinger of the ball, especially the new ball as he takes his first wickets in his opening spell. Together with Steyn, they make a great new ball duo. So dropping Abbott could backfire, so why change what works? If Abbott is dropped, all eyes would be on Allan Donald.
The selectors and the coaches have their work cut out for them. It will be interesting to see who will be on the team sheet against Pakistan and the U.A.E. Replacing the injured Philander and Duminy must have given them a headache, but changing what has been working might lead to a migraine.